Dear Members of the Campus Community,
I am writing to share that our reopening plan has received formal approval from SUNY and to update you about how the plan guides our preparation for the return of students and employees this fall. We know that the uncertainties of the past four months have been challenging, and life on campus will surely not look the same as it did pre-pandemic. However, our goal is to provide high-quality learning experiences in ways that prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
The plan is highly detailed and dense and so we encourage the campus to review this communication and the FAQs that we hope will address your most pressing questions as you prepare for fall. In addition, we will be holding a Facebook Live session today at 4 p.m. with key student affairs, finance and academic affairs staff. A virtual town hall on Tuesday, July 7 (2-4 p.m.), will focus on employee questions. Stay tuned for information on how to participate.
Given the pandemic’s continued uncertainty, we remind you that our approved campus plan is still subject to change due to new information, guidance and/or direction from the state. We know it will not be like any other semester any of us have experienced. We must have a mindset of “we,” not “me,” and safeguard the health of those around us by wearing masks, following social distancing and cleaning protocols. If we don’t, we will likely face a return to an all-remote environment.
I am heartened by faculty who continue to demonstrate their commitment to our mission and to educating our students in this new landscape. I’m grateful to staff and administrators who have and continue to help in planning and supporting needed changes.
As conditions remain fluid, we have been encouraging faculty to prepare for both online and seated modalities with the understanding that a mid-semester pivot to distance learning may become necessary if pandemic conditions require. We are providing ongoing training to faculty on online/remote teaching to help prepare for contingency scenarios. We are also preparing additional training for students to assist them with remote learning.
As we plan to have a limited “live,” residential fall semester, we hope to provide appropriate ways to create community and provide a rich campus life for students, faculty and staff within the safety guidelines necessary for the evolving situation. This includes a blend of small, socially distanced face-to-face gatherings and events as well as creative virtual programming. Stay tuned for invitations to a reimagined Convocation experience and a live-streamed State of the College address.
Here is a summary of topics with further detail below.
- Classes will begin Monday, Aug. 24, per our existing schedule, and instruction will cease on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The final exam period will be on-line after Thanksgiving.
- We will offer a mix of remote, online and face-to-face courses and employ strategies to appropriately support lecture and seminar-style courses, research activities, as well as lab-based and other face-to-face courses under strict social distancing, personal protective equipment and cleaning protocols from guidance provided by the Governor, New York State and Ulster County Health Department and SUNY,
- Residence hall capacity will be reduced. Students will be required to quarantine for a period before the start of seated classes, per the Governor’s recent directive. International students must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival; those living on campus should arrive by Aug. 5. New students must quarantine at home for seven days prior to arriving on campus. New students will move in Aug. 16-18 and will be expected to comply with safe behavior measures and practices during their first seven days on campus. Returning students will move in Aug. 20-23 and will quarantine at home for seven days prior to arriving on campus.
- All students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks or other face coverings in classrooms, restrooms, elevators, lecture halls, common spaces, studios and labs whenever they are occupied by more than one person.
- All students will be required to complete a daily health screening (self-screening) and self- report. This screening will be required for two weeks prior to arrival on campus and for each day they will be on campus. Student Health Service will offer some COVID-19 testing. They will also be able to write prescriptions to allow students to get tested at community sites.
- Employees will also complete a daily health screening, but we will not require employees to test prior to returning to campus.
- A process to request ADA accommodations for faculty, staff and students who may have health issues that raise particular concerns related to COVID-19 is available. The college will also support, to the extent possible, employees with non-ADA, work-life balance concerns or general concerns about returning to campus.
Donald P. Christian